Hours after police in Ferguson, Mo., arrested two reporters and fired tear gas at protesters Wednesday night, state Gov. Jay Nixon released a statement calling for calm.
Nixon, a Democrat, has faced widespread criticism for not weighing in earlier as the situation in Ferguson continues.
His full statement:
"The worsening situation in Ferguson is deeply troubling, and does not represent who we are as Missourians or as Americans. While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern.
"I have been closely monitoring the situation and will continue to be in communication with local leaders, and I will be in north St. Louis County tomorrow. As Governor, I am committed to ensuring the pain of last weekend's tragedy does not continue to be compounded by this ongoing crisis. Once again, I ask that members of the community demonstrate patience and calm while the investigation continues, and I urge law enforcement agencies to keep the peace and respect the rights of residents and the press during this difficult time."
Nixon's statement posted around 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday.
Earlier, Nixon promised to appear in Ferguson during the day Thursday.
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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